Tropical Rainforests Syllabus

Tropical Rainforests Syllabus

Winter Quarter, 2002


John T. Longino, Lab I rm 3056, 867-6511,
Paul Butler, Lab II, rm 3267, 867-6722,


Wednesday, 10am-1pm, Library 2205, Lecture.
Thursday, 2-5pm, Library 2205, Lecture.
Friday, 10am-noon, Lab I, rooms 1051 and 2033, Seminar.
Friday, 1-3pm, Lab I, room 1037, Lab/workshop.

Fridays of weeks 3 and 5 will be all-day field trips.


Longino & Butler: Wed 1-3.


Our last scheduled on-campus class activity will be the Rainforest Bazaar (more on that later) on Friday afternoon, 22 Feb. All students should be in Costa Rica by Monday night, 25 Feb. The program officially ends on the morning of Saturday, 16 March, so your departing flight can be any time from Saturday morning on.

When you have your flight information, please email it to Jack so he can keep track of who is arriving when.

You will need a passport for Costa Rica, so if you don't have one start getting it now.


Forsyth, A., and K. Miyata. 1984. Tropical Nature. Touchstone, New York, New York. ISBN 0-684-18710-8.

Terborgh, J. 1999. Requiem for Nature. Island Press, Washington, D.C. ISBN 1-55963-587-8.

Osborne, P. L. 2000. Tropical Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

Vandermeer, J., and I. Perfecto. 1995. Breakfast of biodiversity: the truth about rain forest destruction. Food First Books, Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland, California, USA.

Conservation Biology forum (reader of photocopied articles; content list)


Kricher, J. 1997. A neotropical companion, second edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Janzen, D. H., editor. 1983. Costa Rican Natural History. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Nadkarni, N. M., and N. T. Wheelwright, editors. 2000. Monteverde: ecology and conservation of a tropical cloud forest. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.


Longino lectures will emphasize tropical diversity patterns and specialized species interactions. The topics will expand on the content of the Osborne chapter on lowland rainforests.

Week 1. Introduction. Patterns of species richness. Why so many species in the tropics, part 1. More.
Week 2. Why so many species in the tropics, part 2. More.
Week 3. Hubbell's theory of diversity. Multiple regression and phylogenetic studies of tropical diversity. Temperate-tropical plant family pairs. More.
Week 4. Tropical flowers and pollination. More.
Week 5. Tropical fruits and fruit dispersal. Statistics of biodiversity inventory (Project ALAS). More.
Week 6. Fig biology. Ant biology. More
Week 7. Adaptive coloration, mimicry. Review. Exam on Friday.
References used in lectures


Butler lectures will emphasize the physical environment of the tropics. Readings listed for each week are from Osborne.

Week 1. Overview, Köppen climatic classification, plate tectonics and world geology, evolutionary time
Reading: Chapter 1, Chapter 2 (p. 18-20)

Week 2. Weather and climate
Reading: p. 32, box 2.1

Week 3. Weather and climate continued, plus discussion of changes in the tropics that occurred during the Quaternary, and impacts of future climate change
Reading: Section 14.4 (p. 404-409)

Week 4. Geology, soils, and geochemical cycles
Readings: Section 2.9 (p. 39-43), sections 5.13 and 5.14 (p. 168-177), box 5.2 (p. 138), Table 8.1 (p. 240)

Week 5. The hydrologic cycle and rivers
Readings: Section 5.4 (p. 152-156), chapter 6

Week 6. Geology and hydrology of Costa Rica. Geologic map of Costa Rica: (small version, 60k low res jpeg) (large version, 956k high res jpeg).

Week 7. Miscellaneous and review for final


Week 1. Forsyth and Miyata.
Week 2. Perfecto and Vandermeer
Week 3. (Field trip)
Week 4. Terborgh
Week 5. (Fieldtrip)
Week 6. Conservation Biology forum
Week 7. EXAM

Click here for additional resources.


Week 1. Species mixer and evolutionary timeline
Week 2. Statistics workshop
Week 3. (Fieldtrip)
Week 4. Botany workshop
Week 5. (Fieldtrip)
Week 6. Entomology workshop
Week 7. Rainforest Bazaar


Week 3. We will explore land forms, hydrology, and habitats along the south fork of the Skokomish River, as a means of contrasting temperate zone processes with the tropical environments we will visit. We will depart the Evergreen traffic circle in two vans at 8:30am and return by 5:00pm. Bring a lunch.

Week 5. We will travel to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo and visit the tropical rainforests exhibit. This will serve in part to increase familiarity with tropical plants and animals, and also to examine how tropical rainforests are interpreted and presented to the public. We will depart the Evergreen traffic circle in two vans at 8:30am and return by 5:00pm. Bring a lunch.


Statistics Workshop

Write-up due Wednesday, Week 3.

Species and Geography accounts

Species Account. On week 1, each student will be assigned a genus or species of tropical organism. Your job is to investigate first the biology of your organism, and secondly its interaction with and importance to humans. You will produce two written products: (1) a short technical report, in the style of species accounts in Costa Rican Natural History, and (2) a report in the style of a newspaper article.

Geography Account. On week 1, each student will be assigned a region in the tropics (geopolitical units such as countries, national parks, etc.). Your job is to investigate the geography of your region. Topics to cover include: bedrock geology, weather and climate data, soils, and native vegetation. You will produce a written report that should be no longer than 4 pages of text, with 2-3 pages of figures.

There will be a review process for manuscripts. We will establish "reviewer clubs" of three students each. Manuscript submissions will occur at the beginning of class on Wednesdays.
Week 4. First draft submitted to two student reviewers. Student reviewers make comments directly on manuscript copies and return to author by Friday. Reviewers: put your name on reviewed copy.
Week 5. Second draft and two reviewer copies of first draft submitted to faculty.
Week 6. Faculty return edited second draft.
Week 7. Third and final draft submitted to faculty for evaluation.

Click here for tips on writing proposals, writing technical scientific reports, and giving symposium talks.

Newspaper article

Due Wednesday, Week 6.


On Friday of week 7 we will have a Rainforest Bazaar. Each student will prepare a visual or audiovisual display that is related to either their geography account or species account (to be assigned).

Week 7 Exam

There will be an in-class written exam during the seminar period of week 7. The exam will be based on all program material up to that point.

Costa Rica field journal

Students will maintain a field journal during the Costa Rica field trip. The journal will be spot-checked by faculty during the field trip, and reviewed at the end of the fieldtrip.


A nice tapir site


8* Tropical Forests: Physical Environments
8* Tropical Forests: Ecology and Diversity.

John T. Longino, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.

Paul Butler, The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 98505 USA.

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Last modified: 18 February 2002